Since the concept of an ‘office’ was first invented, paper has played a major role in documenting activity and planning for future projects. However in recent decades, there’s been increasing scrutiny on the role that paper plays in an office environment.
The rise of digital media in the workplace has helped created a phenomenon known as ‘the paperless office’ as professionals predict a workplace of the future where paper is nothing but a memory.
Despite years of comment and predications from industry experts, the reality is that many workplaces simply cannot operate without printing hard documents, and the paperless office is beginning to look more and more of a myth rather than an achievable goal.
However, although the printing of hard copy documents is still commonplace in many offices, the progression of technology has undoubtedly helped to reduce the amount of printing that occurs. Over the past decade, many businesses have turned to electronic storage for non-essential documents, meaning that the amount of hard copy filing that takes place has dramatically declined.
In many companies, documents are now easily shared on the internal server, or through online cloud storage, meaning the days of having to print out work to share ought to be behind us.
Another aspect of business life which helps to reduce paper usage is the introduction of paperless statements in banking. Whilst expenses information and such is still vital in the hard copy form for many businesses, statements, invoices and pay slips can now all be stored and referenced in their digital format both online, or having been saved to digital storage.
Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones can now be utilised by staff within the working environment. When in the past, meeting attendees may have been provided a hard copy agenda, the utilisation now means that staff who bring their own device (BYOD) can access company documents and take them on the move. In a recent campaign (see here) we found that 75% of staff now used their own devices to access work documents.
With the increase of BYOD within many workforces, the progression in technology with mobile and ‘pull printing’ is actually leading to staff finding it increasingly easy to print, no matter what kind of device they are working on – be it a desktop, laptop tablet or even a smartphone.
As much as we’d like to think it, developing technology hasn’t brought about the realisation of a completely paperless office. Even in the most technologically driven of workplaces, there will still be documents that you simply need a hard copy of. Despite being spoken about and predicted for well over a decade, the working habits of many staff mean that documents are still a necessity within the office, and a hard copy filing system is also seen by many old style business practitioners as being more secure.
What do you think about the progression towards a paperless office? Will it ever become a reality?